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JAXA’s 3D printed SLIM lander successfully launches for the Moon

Its collapsible lattice structure is key for new pinpoint landing technology

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The X-ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission (XRISM), and the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM), were launched onboard the H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 47 (H-IIA F47) at 8:42:11 am on September 7, 2023 (Japan Standard Time, JST) from the Tanegashima Space Center. The landing legs of JAXA’s Small Lunar Module (SLIM) are made of 3D printed metal, and the lattice structure collapses upon impact. This means that the SLIM will be able to land on the Moon’s surface as if it were rolling.

This particular structure is key in JAXA’s mission of developing the pinpoint landing technology necessary for future lunar probes. The project will aim to cut weight for higher-function observational equipment and to land on resource-scarce planets with an eye toward future solar system research probes.

The launch vehicle flew as planned, and it was confirmed that XRISM was successfully separated from the launch vehicle at about 14 minutes and 9 seconds after launch and SLIM at about 47 minutes and 33 seconds after launch.

JAXA 3D printed SLIM lander successfully launches for the Moon. Its lattice structure is key for pinpoint landing technology
JAXA’s SLIM (Smart Lander for Investigating the Moon)

The SLIM (Smart Lander for Investigating the Moon) project is a mission for researching the pinpoint landing technology necessary for future lunar probes and verifying this on the surface of the Moon with a small-scale probe.

By creating the SLIM lander humans will make a qualitative shift towards being able to land where we want and not just where it is easy to land, as had been the case before. By achieving this, it will become possible to land on planets that are even more resource-scarce than the Moon.

Nowadays, there has been an increase in the knowledge of target astronomical objects and the details that should be studied have grown more specific so that high accuracy landings near the target of study have become necessary.

Furthermore, a need will arise for equipping probes with higher-function observational devices for future solar system research probes. Probe systems are being made lighter in preparation for this time and the reduced weight of probes will be essential so as to be able to distribute resources for observational devices.

The SLIM lander aims to achieve a small-scale, lightweight probe system and pinpoint landing technology, in addition to contributing to future lunar probes.

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Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he co-founded London-based VoxelMatters. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites and, as well as VoxelMatters Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

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